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Mask on/off for pop-ups (ver. 25,553)

Nov 18, 2015
950
63
I went back through the recent threads, and it looks like it's been over a year since it was really discussed (which is a good sign, IMO). Looking for feedback / opinions on removing it for pop-ups (not plays at the plate) at the 10U/12U level. I teach leave it on, but during recent practices was hearing an instructor telling one of our catchers to get the mask off on a pop-up. I'm now only an AC, so I need to resort to logic and persuasion, rather than just dictating it as a team rule. :) If I've missed anything in the list of reasons below, please add to it.

1. Vision - Hockey style masks are better designed, to allow for a wider field of view, especially in regards to peripheral vision

2. Vision / Obstructed View - If vision is still obstructed, chances are the mask isn't fitted properly for the player. As @Tatonka mentioned in this thread:
If a kid is repeatedly having a problem tracking the ball it is likely caused by something else...look into that before jumping to the worn out, old school, tired and stupid assumption that they need to remove the mask!
3. Ball Height - at this level, I'm just not seeing the towering pop-ups like in baseball - they're staying low, with the majority only being 10'-15' high. I don't believe you have time to remove the helmet, find the ball, get rid of the helmet, and then catch the ball. You only have time to find the ball (maybe someday the pitcher will decide to help her out, but maybe that's just crazy talk...) and go get the ball.

4. Field Size - We're years away from playing in a stadium. Some of our HS fields have lots of foul territory, but our tournaments are all at complexes where there's barely room for an on-deck batter. Quick reaction is at a premium with the lower ball height, and there's limited opportunity to drift around behind the plate before finding a fence or dugout. Which leads me to...

5. Field Size / Safety - When she's playing in OKC in a few years, sure, take the mask off on a towering pop-up as you wander around the acre of foul territory. But in our typical tiny sandboxes, I don't want my player staring straight up and:
  • Walking / running into the fence
  • Tripping into the dugout
  • Tripping into a gate/pole
  • Walking / running in a gate/pole!
  • Discarding the helmet then immediately stepping on said helmet
  • Discarding the helmet and damaging the helmet
6. [ETA] Comfort / Fit - sort of related to #2 - if the helmet fits properly, it shouldn't be that easy to "rip it off". And if the catcher is wearing sunglasses - I've never had much luck keeping them on my head anytime I tried to remove my helmet.

If anyone has any good video or podcast clips I could reference, that would be very helpful - google wasn't really showing me much. Not that I'm expecting parents / other coaches to say "prove it" when I suggest that Jen Schroeder, Mike Candrea, and multiple catching academies all teach "leave it on", but it never hurts to have a link or two ready just in case.

Thanks as always for the invaluable feedback I always get from this community.
 
Last edited:
May 24, 2013
11,231
113
So Cal
You are spot on. Mask on. Always.

In my observations, the critical skill is reading the ball coming off the bat. If the catcher struggles with this, the mask being on their head or not after that point isn't going to make a lot of difference. I've seen multiple times where the time spent getting their mask off (even if they do it quickly) has cost them the play. I have yet to see a play where I thought taking their mask off would have helped on a play that didn't get made.

 
Mar 6, 2016
174
43
Agree, keep the mask on. The design of current masks don't hinder line of sight. Whereas, ripping the mask off requires not only the extra movement of the hand to the grab the mask (casing head movement) but also the moment the mask goes across the face/eyes limits the line of sight because most girls will close their eyes when they take the mask off. Now they have to find the ball again.

A buddy of mine compared it to hockey goalies. Different sport, but interesting comparison. Do hockey goalies take their masks off when defending every shot on goal? lol
 

RADcatcher

Possibilities & Opportunities!
Dec 13, 2019
1,992
113
California
Its really the helmets that are formed around the head makes it more difficult to remove. AKA Tear your own head off situation.

If it was only a mask that came off...
My mask (no helmet) was 'off immediatly' and thrown into the backstop screen.

Metal frisbee style~ZING~

*Now with the equipment used.
*Keep helmet/mask on.
*Safer during fielding plays with runners.
*Safer diving for pop ups into fences.

Little story
Decades ago with some h.s. team friends went to watch Cal State Fullerton play.
Their Catcher took her mask off and dropped it beside her. Then proceeded to step on it thrashing her ankle.

*Seeing that really influenced me throwing my mask far away.
Farrrr Awayyyy

20200618_135114.jpg
Yes this is the mask i used in college.
:) GO BEACH !!!
Couple more pics can see where the weld broke...
Still used it in games...
and with tape on it.
20200618_135030.jpg
20200618_135025.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
May 7, 2015
362
63
SoCal
All of the catchers helmets are nocsae certified hockey style masks. Without a doubt, MASK ON. Being an AC will make it more difficult to navigate and sway the coach from his beliefs. If it's your DD, dialog with HC on how you teach your DD. Otherwise, grin and bear it!
 
Dec 2, 2013
1,400
113
Texas
Its really the helmets that are formed around the head makes it more difficult to remove.
AKA Tear your own head off situation.

If it was only a mask that came off...
My mask (never wore a helmet) was
'off immediatly' and thrown into the backstop screen.
Metal frisbee style~ZING~

*Now with the equipment used.
*Keep helmet/mask on.
*Safer during fielding plays with runners.
*Safer diving for pop ups into fences.

Little story
Decades ago with some h.s. team friends went to watch Cal State Fullerton play.
Their Catcher took her mask off and dropped it beside her.
Then proceeded to step on it thrashing her ankle.

*Seeing that really influenced me throwing my mask far away.
Farrrr Awayyyy
View attachment 18285
Yes this is the mask i used in college.
:) GO BEACH !!!
Couple more pics can see where the weld broke...
Still used it in games...
and with tape on it.
View attachment 18286
View attachment 18287
God forbid you throw this mask into person. They would need to get a tetanus shot immediately.
 

RADcatcher

Possibilities & Opportunities!
Dec 13, 2019
1,992
113
California
God forbid you throw this mask into person. They would need to get a tetanus shot immediately.
:) so true,,, no umpire or anyone brought it up and that metal looked very similar to todays pic's.

That mask is part of my gear from 1986 College World Series.

Very special.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
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